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Medicine

Brain-Eating Amoeba Scoffs At Chlorine In Water Pipes

An anonymous reader writes: The Naegleria fowleri amoeba typically feeds on bacteria in water and soil. Human digestive systems have no problem killing it, but inhaling water that carries the amoeba gives it the opportunity to work its way into the brain after it sneaks through the nasal mucus. It happens rarely, but 97% of people whose brains start swelling because of this amoeba end up dying. Like most microorganisms, N. fowleri can be neutralized with concentrated chlorine. However, the systems we use to deliver tap water aren't so clean. Researchers found that N. fowleri can easily survive for 24 hours when it's mixed with the types of biofilm that tend to reside in water pipes. Increasing chlorine levels isn't a good option, since its reaction with these biofilms can generate carcinogens.
Earth

Earth Home To 3 Trillion Trees, Half As Many As When Human Civilization Arose 49

sciencehabit writes: Earth today supports more than 3 trillion trees—eight times as many as we thought a decade ago. But that number is rapidly shrinking, according to a global tree survey released today (abstract). We are losing 15 billion trees a year to toilet paper, timber, farmland expansion, and other human needs. So even though the total count is large, the decline is "a cause for concern," says Tom Spies, a forest ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Corvallis, Oregon, who was not involved with the work.
Communications

Municipal ISP Makes 10Gbps Available To All Residents 44

An anonymous reader writes: Five years ago, the city of Salisbury, North Carolina began a project to roll out fiber across its territory. They decided to do so because the private ISPs in the area weren't willing to invest more in the local infrastructure. Now, Salisbury has announced that it's ready to make 10 Gbps internet available to all of the city's residents. While they don't expect many homeowners to have a use for the $400/month 10 Gbps plan, they expect to have some business customers. "This is really geared toward attracting businesses that need this type of bandwidth and have it anywhere they want in the city." Normal residents can get 50 Mbps upstream and downstream for $45/month. A similar service was rolled out for a rural section of Vermont in June. Hopefully these cities will serve as blueprints for other locations that aren't able to get a decent fiber system from private ISPs.
Communications

The Speakularity, Where Everything You Say Is Transcribed and Searchable 43

An anonymous reader sends an article from Nautilus about the possible future of speech recognition software. Today, hundreds of millions of people are walking around with devices that can not only record sound, but also do a decent job of turning spoken word into searchable text. The article makes the case that the recording and transcription of normal conversation will become commonplace, sooner or later. Not only would this potentially make a lot more interesting discussion available beyond earshot, but it could also facilitate information retrieval on a personal level.

The article makes an analogy with email — right now, if you communicated with somebody through email a decade ago, you don't have to remember the specifics — as long as you didn't delete it or switch email providers, you can just search and look at exactly what was said. Of course, the power of such technology comes with trade-offs — not only would we be worried about the obvious privacy issues, but many people may feel restricted by always "performing" for the microphones. Some researchers also worry that if we have technology to remember for us, we'll put much less effort into remembering things ourselves.
United Kingdom

WWII Bomb Shelter Becomes Hi-Tech Salad Farm 69

asjk points out a story of how a World War II bomb shelter, situated 33 meters beneath the streets of London, has been turned into a high-tech hydroponic farm. "The growing system uses energy-efficient LEDs instead of sun, no pesticides, needs 70 percent less water than growing plants in open fields, and less energy than a greenhouse." The computer-controlled environment is designed to shorten the growth cycle of plants like coriander and radishes. They're currently only using about a quarter of the gear necessary to fill up the shelter, but they can produce 5,000-20,000 kilograms of food per year, depending on what they raise. Co-founder Steven Dring said, "We've got to utilize the spaces we've got. There's a finite amount of land and we can grow salads and herbs — which start losing flavor and quality as soon as you cut them — in warehouses and rooftops in cities near the people who will eat them. Use the rural land for things like carrots, potatoes and livestock."
Data Storage

Police Body Camera Business All About the Video Evidence Storage 72

Lucas123 writes: Body cameras are the fastest growing segment of the police video camera business. The two largest police body camera manufacturers today — Taser and VieVu — say they've shipped devices to 41% of the nation's 18,000 police departments. But, the hardware is only the basis for the real business: video evidence storage. Last year, Taser's gross profit margins on hardware were 15.6%; the gross margins for video storage were 51%, according to Glenn Mattson, who follows Taser as an equity analyst for Ladenburg Thalmann. "There's no contest. They don't care about making money on the cameras," Mattson said. As of the first quarter of this year, more than a petabyte of police video has been uploaded to Taser's Evidence.com service. Just one of VieVu's clients, the Oakland PD, has uploaded more than a million police videos. The cost of storage, however, is so high that police departments have been forced to determine strict retention policies, that in some cases may effect the long-term handling of evidence. In Birmingham, Ala., for example, where they've deployed 300 cameras and hope to double that this year, the the video cameras themselves cost about $180,000, but the department's total outlay for a five-year contract including cloud storage with Taser will be $889,000.
Earth

60,000 Antelope Died In 4 Days, and No One Knows Why 120

An anonymous reader writes: The Saiga antelope has been hunted to near extinction. They've been put on the endangered species list, and they play a vital role in the ecosystems around Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan, where their grazing helps get rid of fallen plant matter, which is prevented from decomposing by the cold temperatures. But earlier this year, a huge die-off hit the Saiga antelope herd in Kazakhstan, felling over 120,000 of them in a few short weeks. Scientists say an entire group of 60,000 died within a four-day span. The cause of this die-off is still a mystery. The researchers suspect some sort of bacteria, and early on pointed to Pasteurella strains. But those bacteria don't usually cause this much damage unless something else has weakened the antelope. "There is nothing so special about it. The question is why it developed so rapidly and spread to all the animals," one researcher said. They're looking into environmental factors, but nothing else seems too far out of the ordinary.
Microsoft

FTC: Machinima Took Secret Cash To Shill Xbox One 103

jfruh writes: The Machinima gaming video network took money from a marketing agency hired by Microsoft to pay "influencers" up to $45,000 to promote the Xbox One. Crucially, the video endorsers did not disclose that they'd been paid, which has caused trouble with the FTC. For its part, Machinima notes that this happened in 2013, when the current management was not in charge.
Security

Government Still Hasn't Notified Individuals Whose Personal Data Was Hacked 55

schwit1 writes: Months after the federal government admitted publicly that the personal data of more than 20 million government employees had been hacked they still have not sent notifications to those millions. The agency whose data was hacked, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), said the Defense Department will begin "later this month" to notify employees and contractors across the government that their personal information was accessed by hackers. OPM said notifications would continue over several weeks and "will be sent directly to impacted individuals." OPM also announced that it hired a contractor to help protect the identities and credit ratings of employees whose data was hacked. In a statement, OPM said it had awarded a contract initially worth more than $133 million to a company called Identity Theft Guard Solutions LLC, doing business as ID experts, for identity theft protections for the 21.5 million victims of the security data breach. The contractor will provide credit and identity monitoring services for three years, as well as identity theft insurance, to affected individuals and dependent children aged under 18, the agency said.
Biotech

New Russian Laboratory To Study Mammoth Cloning 40

An anonymous reader writes: While plans to clone a woolly mammoth are not new, a lab used in a joint effort by Russia and South Korea is. The new facility is devoted to studying extinct animal DNA in the hope of creating clones from the remains of animals found in the permafrost. IBtimes reports: "The Sakha facility has the world's largest collection of frozen ancient animal carcasses and remains, with more than 2,000 samples in its possession, including some that are tens of thousands years old, such as a mammoth discovered on the island of Maly Lyakhovsky; experts believe it may be more than 28,000 years old."
United Kingdom

UK Health Clinic Accidentally Publishes HIV Status of 800 Patients 58

An anonymous reader writes: A sexual health clinic in London accidentally disclosed the HIV positive status of almost 800 patients. The Guardian reports: "The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has ordered an inquiry into how the NHS handles confidential medical information after the “completely unacceptable” breach of the privacy of hundreds of HIV patients. The 56 Dean Street clinic in London apologized on Wednesday after sending a newsletter on Tuesday which disclosed the names and email addresses of about 780 recipients. The newsletter is intended for people using its HIV and other sexual health services, and gives details of treatments and support.
Security

Despite Reports of Hacking, Baby Monitors Remain Woefully Insecure 82

itwbennett writes: Researchers from security firm Rapid7 have found serious vulnerabilities in nine video baby monitors from various manufacturers. Among them: Hidden and hard-coded credentials providing local and remote access over services like SSH or Telnet; unencrypted video streams sent to the user's mobile phone; unencrypted Web and mobile application functions and unprotected API keys and credentials; and other vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to abuse the devices, according to a white paper released Tuesday. Rapid7 reported the issues it found to the affected manufacturers and to US-CERT back in July, but many vulnerabilities remain unpatched.
Security

Check Point Introduces New CPU-Level Threat Prevention 109

An anonymous reader writes: After buying Israeli startup company Hyperwise earlier this year, Check Point Software Technologies (Nasdaq: CHKP) now unveils its newest solution for defeating malware. Their new offering called SandBlast includes CPU-Level Threat Emulation that was developed in Hyperwise which is able to defeat exploits faster and more accurately than any other solution by leveraging CPU deubgging instruction set in Intel Haswell, unlike known anti-exploitation solutions like kBouncer or ROPecker which use older instruction sets and are therefore bypassable. SandBlast also features Threat Extraction — the ability to extract susceptible parts from incoming documents.
Security

"Extremely Critical" OS X Keychain Vulnerability Steals Passwords Via SMS 102

Mark Wilson writes: Two security researchers have discovered a serious vulnerability in OS X that could allow an attacker to steal passwords and other credentials in an almost invisible way. Antoine Vincent Jebara and Raja Rahbani — two of the team behind the myki identity management security software — found that a series of terminal commands can be used to extract a range of stored credentials. What is particularly worrying about the vulnerability is that it requires virtually no interaction from the victim; simulated mouse clicks can be used to click on hidden buttons to grant permission to access the keychain. Apple has been informed of the issue, but a fix is yet to be issued. The attack, known as brokenchain, is disturbingly easy to execute. Ars reports that this weakness has been exploited for four years.
Programming

You Don't Have To Be Good At Math To Learn To Code 503

HughPickens.com writes: Olga Khazan writes in The Atlantic that learning to program involves a lot of Googling, logic, and trial-and-error—but almost nothing beyond fourth-grade arithmetic. Victoria Fine explains how she taught herself how to code despite hating math. Her secret? Lots and lots of Googling. "Like any good Google query, a successful answer depended on asking the right question. "How do I make a website red" was not nearly as successful a question as "CSS color values HEX red" combined with "CSS background color." I spent a lot of time learning to Google like a pro. I carefully learned the vocabulary of HTML so I knew what I was talking about when I asked the Internet for answers." According to Khazan while it's true that some types of code look a little like equations, you don't really have to solve them, just know where they go and what they do. "In most cases you can see that the hard maths (the physical and geometry) is either done by a computer or has been done by someone else. While the calculations do happen and are essential to the successful running of the program, the programmer does not need to know how they are done." Khazan says that in order to figure out what your program should say, you're going to need some basic logic skills and you'll need to be skilled at copying and pasting things from online repositories and tweaking them slightly. "But humanities majors, fresh off writing reams of term papers, are probably more talented at that than math majors are."